Karim Benzema put in a brilliant performance and scored two goals in a 4-2 win for 10-man Real Madrid against Espanyol in the Spanish league on Sunday.
The French striker opened the scoring only four minutes into the match in Barcelona and also provided several smart passes for his teammates that went close to producing more goals.
A third straight league win kept Santiago Solari’s team in third place and 10 points behind leader Barcelona.
Madrid finished without both starting centerbacks. Sergio Ramos picked up a knock that led to his substitution at halftime, while Raphael Varane saw a direct red for fouling Pablo Piatti with only the goalkeeper to beat in the 72nd with Madrid 4-1 ahead.
Benzema got Madrid going when he put in the rebound of a save by goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who had parried Luka Modric’s strike after Espanyol’s defense backpedaled as the midfielder dribbled into the area.
Ramos doubled the visitors’ advantage in the 15th when he headed in his 10th goal for Madrid this season. Espanyol’s defense was again to blame as he left Ramos unmarked for Modric to find him with a cross.
Leo Baptistao pulled one back for the hosts by firing a loose ball over Thibaut Courtois.
But Benzema restored the cushion in first-half stoppage time when his pass meant for Vinicius Junior was knocked back into his path, where he stroked a low shot around Lopez.
Gareth Bale completed the scoring for Madrid three minutes after going on in the 64th.
Roberto Rosales then expertly controlled a long ball with his chest before beating Thibaut to score Espanyol’s second goal.